Famed Inquirer Journalist to Teach Advanced Journalistic Writing

I'm very pleased to announce that a new course, "Advanced Journalistic
Writing," is being co-sponsored by the Center for Programs in Contemporary
Writing (of the School of Arts & Sciences) and the Annenberg School for

The course is being taught by Dick Polman, Chief National Political
Correspondent for the Philadelphia Inquirer. He has covered the last three
presidential elections, among many other major assignments. (A profile of
Polman is below.)

The course will also feature visits by a eminent journalists, who will meet
with the workshop students and then offer public seminars and talks at the
Kelly Writers House.

If you look at the in-progress spring Creative Writing roster:


you will see a number of non-fiction writing courses that emphasize
feature writing and journalistic writing. As you know, Paul Hendrickson has
long taught such courses in Creative Writing, along with Bob Strauss, and
once again this spring, Michael Vitez (also of the Inquirer)--among others.

Al Filreis
Kelly Professor of English
Faculty Director, the Kelly Writers House
Director, the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing


Advanced Journalistic Writing
Spring 2005
English 158
(National Political Correspondent for the Philadelphia Inquirer)
Mondays 2-5 PM (CPCW [3808 Walnut] Room 111)

This is a how-to course for talented aspiring writers -- how to write well
in the real world; how to hook the reader and sustain interest; how to
develop the journalistic skills that enable a writer to gather, sift and  
report information. The instructor will share his own real-world
experience, as a full-time working journalist for the past three decades.
He will be joined on occasion by noteworthy guests- including several star
journalists from the New York Times- who will address the class and appear 
at mandatory forums to be held at the Kelly Writers House.

Even though students will read and critique some famous practitioners of
non-fiction writing-among them, Gay Talese, Tom Wolfe, Michael Herr, Truman
Capote and Richard Ben Cramer-along with contemporary newspaper
storytellers that include the instructor (a national correspondent for the
Philadelphia Inquirer), the emphasis will be on the students' own writing.

The goal is to inspire students to tap their own potential, gain fresh
insights, and feel comfortable enough to share their assigned work-both  
short and long pieces-with others in the class over the span of the
semester. Students will write all kinds of non-fiction pieces, from
personal memoirs to long-form features about anything from the Philadelphia
scene to campus issues and events. The topics are less important than the
craftsmanship; anything can be a great read if it's written and reported

Journalistic issues, both practical and ethical, will also be
addressed-among them: how to decide who to interview, and how to handle an   
interviewee; how to use (and not use) the Internet; when to use (or not
use) anonymous sources.

Spaces in this special course are strictly limited. Students will be
admitted to the workshop on the basis of an application: students should
submit several writings, along with a thoughtful message explaining their
interest (and any relevant background or experience) by email to:

This course is a collaboration of the Center for Programs in Contemporary
Writing and the Annenberg School for Communication.

For more about the course, see




Dick Polman has covered the last three presidential elections as national 
political reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, but that's only his most
recent stint in journalism. In his 16 years at the Inquirer, he has also
been, among other things, a foreign correspondent based in London; a     
baseball writer covering the Philadelphia Phillies; a general-assignment
feature writer in the feature section; and a longtime contributor to the
newspaper's Sunday magazine - writing long pieces about everything from
Nazi war criminals to the comeback of the condom. In the early '80s, he  
wrote three columns a week for the Hartford Courant, and, at age 24 in  
1975, he was the founding editor of an alternative newspaper, the Hartford
Advocate that stressed long feature articles and commentary. The Advocate,
which still publishes, serves the same function as the City Paper does in
Philadelphia. Dick attended George Washington University, where he served    
as managing editor of the college newspaper and graduated with a BA in 
Public Affairs in 1973. He returned to school, in a sense, two years ago
when he won a fellowship and spent a semester auditing courses at Penn -
including two in the English department. But it's not all work. Dick loves
jazz, baseball, tennis, novels, movies, and his family. He has a son in 
college, and a daughter in high school. His wife, Elise Vider, is director
of communications for Center City District, the agency charged with
promoting and enforcing a clean and safe Center City Philadelphia.